2014-15 Golden State Warriors Preview with Dubs Aficionado David Barnes

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Fill-in-the-blanks

Andrew Bogut will play ___ games this year. (65)

Due to better team ball-movement, Wardell “Steph” Curry II will lower his turnovers from 3.7 to ___ per game. (2.5)

Due to better team ball-movement, Klay Thompson will increase his 3-point % from 41.7 to ____ (47.7)

Short Answers

How much credit can we prematurely give Alvin Gentry for the fluid ball-movement? Does dividing the credit between Kerr and Gentry really matter? If we’re honest, they will be sharing the duties, especially in Kerr’s first year as a coach.

Kerr’s relationship with Gentry will be significant enough to land him a head-coaching job somewhere else next year and Kerr will fully support that. Don’t forget that what we’re seeing develop here is a hybrid triangle/Suns “shot every 9 seconds” offense. And don’t forget Ron Adams and his impact on not only continuing to develop the Dubs defense but to make it even more effective.

Spread the love for Shaun Livingston.

Size, smarts, basketball IQ. He’s a difficult match-up as a starter, impossible as a backup and he gives them one more rebounder who can grab and go.

Is it possible Livingston becomes as beloved as Draymond Green?

Nope. Expectations for Livingston are already pretty high (and hyped) and “Money” Green is one of the better stories in all of the NBA over the last few years.

What do you enjoy about Leandro Barbosa?

He’s fast and fearless.

What about Mark Jackson’s coaching will you miss?

The team always played hard for him and he defended his guys like few others.

What about Mark Jackson’s coaching will you NOT miss?

Endless isolations, heartbreaking home losses, leftover timeouts at game’s end.

***

Longer Answers

Does it matter that Warriors owner Joe Lacob knew and trusted Steve Kerr through playing golf with him? Is Joe Lacob aware of the perception of “exclusive club membership leads to bad hiring practices?” Should we consider the issues with “exclusive” kinds of friendships?

Doesn’t particularly bother me and in the Bay Area, where so much happens through connections, it’s fine with me especially because Kerr also comes with an impeccable resume. Lacob already hired his son and put him in an important role so as long as he’s willing to bear the weight of that and they produce, I’m fine with that. I also compare that with the previous ownership/management group which was insulated and insular so taking a chance on guys with upside no matter where the relationship came from works for me.

I happen to think Kerr will make a great coach, especially because, as you say, he’s surrounded by two excellent assistants. The rational part of me knows that connections are often part of the hiring equation, in regard to coaches/managers. The desire for equal consideration to all coaches makes me wonder if enough front offices give a spectrum of candidates a fair shake. Obviously, there were aspects of Jackson’s coaching that were questionable at best. To make things worse, he didn’t handle being questioned in a mature and realistic way, and handled himself defensively with the media. Back in May, Marcus Thompson’s take on the Jackson situation was fantastically well-rounded (cultural, political, personal issues colliding with front office). At the end of this Warriors preview, you can find the beginning of that piece. Ultimately, I think Lacob would have been wise to consider the optics of highlighting the golfing-connection. Recently, several NBA front offices have been spotlighted for their issues (racism, myopia, entitlement, etc.)

It’s not to say that two white men can’t get to know each other on a golf course. However, when that leads to one of them being hired to coach in a very desirable NBA city, without previous coaching experience (though he was the GM in Phoenix for several years), it comes into sharper focus. Many fans simply don’t want “golf course exclusivity” to be anywhere near hiring practices. I am one of those fans. Of course, I’m not a fan of golf courses and what happens on them for a variety of reasons.

***

What are you most looking forward to about the 2014-15 Golden State Warriors?

Watching a beautiful team play a beautiful game. Hearing the loudest arena in the league get louder. Seeing Steph take yet another step forward and a top-4 finish in the Western conference, followed by a lengthy playoff run.

What makes you most nervous about the 2014-15 Golden State Warriors?

Health. If they stay healthy, they play with anyone and yes that includes playing for a championship.

Other thoughts?

In terms of players, coaches, management, this is on paper the best team they’ve ever had. And they’re not only good on court, they’re good on the eyes which should translate to more than one player on the all-star team. Expectations are and should be high and they should embrace those moments knowing the reward will be beyond understanding. This team wins a championship? They’re going to blow away the Bay Area.

I like that final thought.

***

The opening of Marcus Thompson‘s examination of last May’s Warriors front office situation, “Warriors, Mark Jackson, and the Question of Race,” from May 8:

First let me say this: I don’t think for one second that when members of Warriors management decided to fire Mark Jackson, his race even cross their mind. I know Bob Myers more than all of them, I’d say, and if he is prejudiced then he is also a great actor. There is no evidence, hard or anecdotal, substantiated or rumored, that Joe Lacob harbors any such negative feelings about people of color.

I do not believe Jackson was fired because he is African-American.

With that said, race and culture is indeed a factor here. I don’t believe it was the primary factor, or a top factor. But I’m so amazed, even in the light of the Donald Sterling situation, that this element is being written off as a non-factor.

I’ve discussed this on Twitter and hesitated to elaborate outside of that medium because people get weird when you bring up the realities of race. And quite honestly, I don’t have the energy to be Marcus Garvey right now. But Scott Ostler’s conclusion in his column — “let’s keep talking” — prompted me to suck it up and chime in to the discussion. If you are tired of race and NBA discussions, fatigued by the Donald Sterling mess, be warned that’s what this post is about. I’ve already written extensively about Jackson and the other reasons. You will have no problem finding them on our website and this blog.

If you are already foaming at the mouth, furious this black writer is bringing up race again, you should stop reading. Actually, you should keep reading, because you really need to be part of the discussion. But it requires an open mind, a willingness to see other perspectives and a willingness to dialogue civilly about undergirding topics. But you probably can’t do that if you’re all riled up. However, you will probably see your this-is-not-about-race response in this post if you decide to keep reading.

Proceed if you so choose.

http://blogs.mercurynews.com/thompson/2014/05/08/warriors-mark-jackson-and-the-question-of-race/

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24 (Slightly Absurd) NBA Certainties for the 2014-15 Season

The following twenty-four NBA-related events will most certainly occur over the course of the next eight months. 

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1. On October 30, Blake Griffin “retaliates” against Serge Ibaka‘s third take-down of the game by blowing him kisses. Later in the game, Glen Davis crushes Ibaka and then pins him to the court in a wrestling maneuver. Davis is suspended for five games, but coach Doc Rivers buys Davis a new Tesla for his troubles.

2. The Minnesota Timberwolves will not be all that exciting in general, but Ricky Rubio to Andrew Wiggins and Rubio to Zach LaVine lob passes will be a nice distraction from the standings. Coach Flip Saunders gives Rubio an ultimatum in mid-November: “Get to the free-throw more or we’ll all start calling you, “Marco.”

3. Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd comes out of retirement in late-November because he wants to, “Teach Jabari the pick-and-roll.” Jabari Parker continues to pick-and-pop but refuses to “roll.”

4. Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob introduces pre-game three-point contests involving Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and new coach Steve Kerr. The Warriors start selling tickets for the pre-game event only.

December

5. Philadelphia 76ers second round pick K.J. McDaniels becomes first NBA player to have a 10 block, 10 turnover game against the downtrodden Orlando Magic.

6. Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau embraces the fact he finally has a deep bench and plays everyone 25 minutes per game, saving them for the playoffs. Derrick Rose will play the entire season.

7. ESPN.com crashes for several days in mid-December due to advanced metrics malfunctioning and causing panic.

8. In a New Year’s Eve special, longtime TNT commentator Marv Albert has a breakdown. After months of rotating broadcast partners, Albert retires mid-season, forcing Ernie Johnson into an awkward play-by-play role. Back in the studio, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal won’t listen to Kenny Smith. Shaq keeps shouting, “Barbecued Chicken!” The ratings have never been better.

January

9.  The Boston Celtics take a league-record 53 three-pointers in a game against the Toronto Raptors, including 19 by Jared Sullinger. They make only 7. Sullinger finishes the game with 18 offensive rebounds.

10. LeBron James tells Dion Waiters that Waiters won’t be joining the Cleveland Cavs on their ten-day road trip in January, because he will be enrolled in anger management classes. Coach David Blatt simply nods in the background.

11. ESPN declares they will air every Cavs game from February 1 until the end of the season.

February

12. At the All-Star Break, the NBA announces the details of its new television deal on the salary cap, but the cap number keeps increasing every week, like it does with the Mega Millions. By June, the number is $140 million. Every team will have an inordinate amount of cap space and twelve assistant GMs will quit right before free agency begins in July, 2016.

13. The Houston Rockets beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 104-92. Only two Rockets score points in the game. James Harden gets 58. Dwight Howard scores 46. Kobe Bryant scores 31 points, taking 57 shots, in the least-efficient performance in league history. Lakers guard Jeremy Lin finally complains to the media about Kobe’s selfish ways. Rookie Julius Randle gets a DNP-CD from coach Byron Scott because he accidentally took a corner three-pointer the previous game. Phil Jackson‘s laughter can be heard from coast-to-coast.

14. The Indiana Pacers, who are averaging 64 points per game, trade away Roy Hibbert and David West to the Sacramento Kings for Ben McLemore and a future second-round pick. Larry Bird goes AWOL as soon as the season ends.

15. The Boston Celtics do not trade Rajon Rondo. Bill Simmons yells at Celtics GM Danny Ainge on The Grantland Basketball Hour. At 25-29, the Celtics make a run at the 8th seed in the weak Eastern Conference. In an ironic twist, the Celtics and Nets will fight it out for the final spot.

April

16. The Philadelphia 76ers play a regular season game in which the arena is completely empty. The television commentators leave the booth in protest early in the second quarter. The Sixers forfeit their final five home games, but refuse to refund those tickets to the 43 remaining season ticket holders. Instead, they barter with those fans, hoping to secure second round picks. Sixers GM Sam Hinkie sits down with SI’s Lee Jenkins in April, at the end of the Sixers 6-76 (fitting, isn’t it?) season. The tell-all essay is titled, “Vision 2020.” Sixers fans organize an event where they set fire to a pile of this issue of Sports Illustrated. Joel Embiid is asked to stop using Twitter by commissioner Adam Silver.

17. The Sacramento Kings win 44 games but finish 10th in the Western Conference. Owner Vivek Ranadive petitions for Sacramento to move to the Eastern Conference, but commissioner Silver stops answering Vivek’s texts. A blog is created: http://www.vivekstexts.com

18. The Memphis Grizzlies finish 6th in the West and end up taking the 3rd-seed San Antonio Spurs to Game 7, before losing the final game on two Zach Randolph missed free-throws.

May

19. After much debate, Seattle doesn’t get a franchise but they do get a new Chipotle restaurant.

20. In the middle of the Western Conference Semis between San Antonio and Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant announces he’s moving 5,000 of his closest friends and family to a newly built community outside of Oklahoma City. The rumors that he’s headed to Washington, D.C. persist anyway, because the NBA gossip bubble in the age of Twitter expands like a piece of Bubblicious.

21. The Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets finish 4th and 5th in the East. Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson become involved in a staring match that lasts for 45 minutes at center court after the final buzzer of Game 1. Whichever team wins the evenly-matched series loses in 5 games to the Bulls in the East Semis.

22. The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers meet in the Western Conference Semis. Steve Kerr and Doc Rivers both agree to do color commentary and let their assistants coach during the second quarter of each game.

23. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Chicago Bulls beat the Cleveland Cavs in 6 games. Jimmy Butler does such a ridiculous job defending Kyrie Irving (holding him to 13% shooting for the series) that he is named series MVP.

June

24. The Chicago Bulls beat the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Finals in 7 games. Five of the games come down to the wire. Chris Paul retires (temporarily) out of frustration. Tom Thibodeau is named MVP, due to the fact that every member of the Bulls contributes roughly the same amount to the wins, and the voting ends in a seven-way tie.

***

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Brief Celtics Q&A with Celtics Aficionado Jared Schaeffer

Q. First question: Jared, have you slipped in the shower lately?

A. No! I’m guessing it would take me longer than 4 weeks to heal if I did though.

Q. Was it more frustrating to hear about Rondo’s broken hand or Rondo’s endless trade destinations?

A. Trade destinations! People hurt themselves; the injury doesn’t seem too bad and now it sounds like he’ll be back for opening night.  I’ve yet to see a reasonable trade floated for him.  Do we really need more picks at this point?  I think people have forgotten how good/fun to watch he was before the ACL injury.

Q. Is 2014 Tyler Zeller going to be as effective as 2001 Mark Blount? (Correction, I meant 2003-04 Mark Blount, who averaged 10 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block. Clearly, I believe Tyler Zeller is capable of turning into a serviceable center if I think he might achieve the glory of 2004 Mark Blount).

A. 2001 Mark Blount averaged about 3 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Zeller is going to offer much more than that, but you never know.

Q. How many games will the Celtics lose by 5 points or less? (Last year’s record?)*

A. It looks like they lost 14 games last year by 5 points or less. I’d expect a similar number, though slightly improved.
*further research shows the Celtics lost 25 games by 4-9 points. Though the Celtics lost a whopping 57 games, they got blown out far fewer than all other 50+ loss teams, thanks to their decent defense.

Q. How many total minutes will James Young play? More than 700?

A. I guess I’ll take the under on that.  Maybe 500 minutes?  Thornton, Turner, Green, Wallace, Bradley, Smart seems like too much depth for Young to get much time at the 2/3.

Q. Do you want Jeff Green to remain a Celtic for the next two years, or would you rather see him traded?

A. I guess I want to see him remain a Celtic (unless he can be traded for someone that can protect the rim). Hopefully he plays more minutes at the 4 this year.
Agreed on Green at the 4, though I’m not sure the Celtics can survive on the boards unless Sullinger plays center and averages 15 per game if Green plays power forward more. 

Q. What are you looking forward to about this upcoming season?

A. The return of Rondo. Marcus Smart’s defense. 8213189301 threes. Marcus Thornton on good days. Gerald Wallace diving all over the floor in meaningless games. Jeff Green at power forward (please). Brandon Bass.

It would be nice to see a new stat in the box score: dives. Only counting loose ball-type dives. Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Gerald Wallace are all excellent divers. 

Gerald Wallace is one of the best divers in the NBA.

Gerald Wallace is one of the best divers in the NBA.

Q. What are you NOT looking forward to about this upcoming season?

A. Every team with any height/interior presence destroying them. Marcus Smart’s 3s. Marcus Thornton on bad days. Gerald Wallace free throws.

Perhaps the Celtics can request every opponent has to sit their starting center for the entire third quarter in order to make the games closer. Unless of course Tyler Zeller transforms into 2003-04 Mark Blount!

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